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Techs Mechs: Mid Year Review

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[editor's note, by Mr Van P] just a note, for more details on the three bikes mentioned below refer to cycling news. Pete Just some thoughts/predictions/opinions regarding the technological aspects of the sport.

  • The third time's the charm for Specialized and Boonen, as Torpedo Tom displayed his new S-Works Tarmac SL2 at the Dauphine.  It offers geometry that better suits the 6'4" Boonen than the original XL Tarmac he started the year on, and it's full carbon as opposed to the old alloy E5 he was riding for the classics.  It bears a similar profile to their off-the-shelf Tarmac only with a much beefier head tube, bb shell and stays.  Will this be the machine that delivers the Green jersey in Paris? We'll see.
  • Valverde showed off his Pinarello Prince to the public as well. The Prince was the flagship model, after the original Paris and before the Dogma. The Original Prince was aluminum while the new Prince is carbon. Pinarello continues to refine their carbon frames making them stronger and lighter. More to follow as specs become available for the Prince. I will say this those who hate the swoopy Onda fork and stays will really hate the even swoopier Onda FPX fork and stays of the Prince.
  • The Prince is adopting the practice of using a tapered steerer tube (1 1/8"- 1 1/2"), which has become the standard for such manufacturers as Time, Cannondale and Ridley to name a few. I believe the integrated headset is here to stay (Chris King should really get on board here) since the tapered forks are made to work as part of a system that is most easily achieved with internal bearings.
  • The integrated bb/crank system seems to be grabbing hold a bit with Cannondale's proven SI as well as the Pinarello FP.  Will it be a practice for other manufacturers? Prediction: no -- I believe that Shimano, FSA, SRAM and Campy have invested too much in crank bb systems to lose this battle. But I don't see Cannondale scapping it either, especially after DiLuca road an SI equipped SystemSix to victory in Milan.
  • The Seatmast is a widespread practice as well, but I believe that by 2009, it will be scrapped. I liked the idea of it at first, but now I find it ugly and I cringe at the notion of someone taking a hacksaw to my $4+k frame. Not sure what consumers are saying, but I'm yet to see any showing up at my club rides. Just my .02 but you can't go the route of offering bikes in a whopping 4 sizes and then saddle consumers (no pun), with a rigid seat mast. What if it's not enough set back? What if your position changes? What if you lose 50 lbs and your butt shrinks making your legs an inch longer in the saddle (trust me in can happen)? I just don't see it sticking around, but I've been wrong before.
  • Proof that carbon fiber is here to stay. The new flagship for the venerable aluminum bike builders from Bethel Pennsylvania, Cannondale, is the all-carbon SuperSix. Not their first all carbon offering (the comfy-built Synapse takes that title), it's their first full bore race frame in Carbon. That's ok with me, since it will just make the CAAD9 cheaper when I pick one up next year..